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GOP congressman apologizes to BP for ‘$20 billion shakedown’

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UPDATE: Under fire from even members of his own party, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) retracted his apology to BP over President Barack Obama’s insistence that the company set up a $20 billion escrow fund to pay damages related to the Gulf oil spill.

“I want to be absolutely clear that I think BP is responsible for this accident, should be held responsible and should in every way do everything possible to make good on the consequences that have resulted from this accident,” Barton said Thursday, as quoted at CBS News. “And if anything I said this morning has been misconstrued to the opposite effect I want to apologize for that misconstrued misconstruction.”

Following his statement earlier Thursday that the $20 billion fund amounted to a “shakedown” of BP, Barton found himself under attack not only from Vice-President Joe Biden and other Democrats, but from other Republicans as well. A Florida Republican has called for Barton to step down as the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Hill reports:

A Republican lawmaker from a district affected by the oil spill called on Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) to step down as the ranking member of his committee.

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Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), whose Pensacola district is among the most affected areas in the Gulf by the oil spill, condemned Barton for apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward during a committee meeting on Thursday.

“I condemn Mr. Barton’s statement. Mr. Barton’s remarks are out of touch with this tragedy and I feel his comments call into question his judgment and ability to serve in a leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee,” Miller said in a statement. “He should step down as ranking member of the Committee.”

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW

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We’re sorry that the government wants to penalize you for creating the worst environmental disaster in the history of the United States, one Republican congressman has suggested to BP.

During a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) called the $20 billion escrow fund that BP has promised to establish a “shakedown” and apologized to BP Tony Hayward.

“I’m speaking totally for myself and I’m not speaking for the Republican Party and I’m not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself, but I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton began.

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“I think it’s a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown,” he continued, “in this case, a $20 billion shakedown with the Attorney General of the United States — who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the interests of the American people — participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that’s unprecedented in our nation’s history, that’s got no legal standing, and that I think sets a terrible precedent for the future.”

“I’m only speaking for myself,” Barton repeated. “I’m not speaking for anybody else, but I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong and is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize.”

In a statement, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted Barton following the hearing:

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What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction. Congressman Barton may think that a fund to compensate these Americans is a ‘tragedy’, but most Americans know that the real tragedy is what the men and women of the Gulf Coast are going through right now. Members from both parties should repudiate his comments.

Barton, who was chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee when the Republicans held a majority in the House and is now its ranking member, is well known for his close ties to the energy industry. According to OpenSecrets.org, over the course of his career Barton’s top industry donor has been the oil and gas industry, for a total of nearly $1.5 million in contributions.

Barton has almost always stuck by his donors. A profile at Texans for Public Justice states, “Barton stuck provisions in the 2003 energy bill to give the Dallas-Fort Worth region more time to flunk clean-air standards. The bill failed because of another Barton-championed provision to shield the petrochemical industry from liability for the carcinogenic gasoline additive MTBE. … Westar Energy got Barton to insert special provisions into 2002 energy legislation to let Westar split off its regulated utility from its heavily indebted other businesses–a split that would facilitate saddling ratepayers with $1 billion Westar’s non-utility debts.”

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Barton was also an early global warming skeptic. In July 2005, the Washington Post’s David Ignatius commented, “I can’t remember anything quite as nasty — or as politically skewed — as Rep. Joe Barton’s recent attack on scientists whose views on global warming he doesn’t like.”

Barton had sent letters to three climate change scientists “demanding information about what he claimed were ‘methodological flaws and data errors’ in their studies of global warming.” The bullying tone of these letters was so pronounced that even a fellow Republican who chaired the House Committee on Science cautioned, “My primary concern about your investigation is that its purpose seems to be to intimidate scientists rather than to learn from them, and to substitute Congressional political review for scientific peer review. This would be pernicious.”

This video is from MSNBC’s News Live, broadcast June 17, 2010.

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‘Pure and simple evil’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Mika destroy Trump’s ‘racist and illegal’ taunts against Omar

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski warned that President Donald Trump's attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) were both illegal and racist -- as well as an incitement to violence.

The "Morning Joe" co-hosts were appalled by the crowd's reaction -- chanting "send her back" -- to Trump attacks at a Greensboro, North Carolina, rally.

"Republicans shamed themselves by not calling racism, racism," Scarborough said. "I saw some people actually write columns that used to be respected trying to excuse the president's language and saying it's not racist, but the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that Donald Trump oversees that enforces laws against discrimination, specifically outlined such language that the president used last night and that his crowd used last night as an example of bias."

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Blood-soaked ‘It’ sequel jolts Comic-Con to life

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San Diego Comic-Con kicked off with a chorus of shrieks -- and gallons of blood -- as New Line Cinema unveiled spine-chilling footage from "It: Chapter 2," the sequel to the highest-grossing horror movie of all time.

The Warner Bros-owned studio used Wednesday's preview night of the world's largest pop culture fan gathering to showcase its concluding film of Stephen King's 1986 novel about a terrifying clown who lurks in the sewers, preying on children's most nightmarish fears.

The adaptation was split into two by director Andy Muschietti -- the first part, released in 2017, took a stunning $700 million at the global box office.

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Neglected and dirty, ‘Christ of Theft’ statue poses dilemma for Peru

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A giant statue of Jesus Christ that looms over Lima is causing controversy in Peru because of its financing by the graft-tainted Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht and late ex-president Alan Garcia.

The 37-meter (121-foot) acrylic and concrete structure, which cost $800,000, is viewed by some as a symbol of corruption, giving rise to a local nickname 'Christ of Theft.' Thousands are demanding its removal.

A few weeks ago, the Es Momento (It's Time) non-governmental organization began a campaign to have the statue, which sits on the Chorrillos mountain to Lima's south, taken down.

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GOP congressman apologizes to BP for $20 billion ‘shakedown’

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Things aren’t all bad for BP. CEO Tony Hayward appeared before a House Energy panel Thursday and at least one Republican congressman spoke up in his defense.

Rep. Joe Barton called the $20 billion trust fund a “shakedown” and apologized to the oil company.

“I’m speaking totally for myself and I’m not speaking for the Republican Party and I’m not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself, but I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it’s a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. In this case, a $20 billion shakedown with the Attorney General of the United States who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the interests of the American people participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that’s unprecedented in our nation’s history that’s got no legal standing and what I think sets a terrible precedent for the future,” said Barton.

“I’m only speaking for myself. I’m not speaking for anybody else, but I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong and is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize,” he said.

This video is from MSNBC’s News Live, broadcast June 17, 2010.

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Watch this video on iPhone/iPad


Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
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‘Pure and simple evil’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Mika destroy Trump’s ‘racist and illegal’ taunts against Omar

Published

on

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski warned that President Donald Trump's attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) were both illegal and racist -- as well as an incitement to violence.

The "Morning Joe" co-hosts were appalled by the crowd's reaction -- chanting "send her back" -- to Trump attacks at a Greensboro, North Carolina, rally.

"Republicans shamed themselves by not calling racism, racism," Scarborough said. "I saw some people actually write columns that used to be respected trying to excuse the president's language and saying it's not racist, but the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that Donald Trump oversees that enforces laws against discrimination, specifically outlined such language that the president used last night and that his crowd used last night as an example of bias."

Continue Reading

Facebook

Blood-soaked ‘It’ sequel jolts Comic-Con to life

Published

on

San Diego Comic-Con kicked off with a chorus of shrieks -- and gallons of blood -- as New Line Cinema unveiled spine-chilling footage from "It: Chapter 2," the sequel to the highest-grossing horror movie of all time.

The Warner Bros-owned studio used Wednesday's preview night of the world's largest pop culture fan gathering to showcase its concluding film of Stephen King's 1986 novel about a terrifying clown who lurks in the sewers, preying on children's most nightmarish fears.

The adaptation was split into two by director Andy Muschietti -- the first part, released in 2017, took a stunning $700 million at the global box office.

Continue Reading
 

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US senator calls for investigation into FaceApp over security concerns

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Popular Russia-based application FaceApp, which allows users to change their appearance to look older or younger, came under fire in the United States Wednesday, with one senator urging an FBI investigation.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the FBI and the FTC, the US consumer protection body, to "look into the national security & privacy risks" connected to FaceApp, which is used by millions of Americans but was developed by a Saint Petersburg-based company.

"FaceApp's location in Russia raises questions regarding how and when the company provides access to the data of U.S. citizens to third parties, including potentially foreign governments," the New York senator said in a letter to the FBI.

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